▶️ After delay, Caldera High School celebrates official opening to public

Wednesday the Bend La-Pine Schools celebrated its newest school, Caldera High.

Community members were invited to a barbecue and a tour of the school.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Bend resident Pat Yaeger. “The classrooms are spacious and gorgeous, the newest technology I’ve ever seen. So impressive. The library, the auditorium, your custodian made a comment, the head custodian here and he said, ‘Pat this is the Harvard of high schools,’ and I think he absolutely nailed it. ‘The Harvard of high schools’.”

High praise from those touring the hallways.

For family and friends the wait was finally over.

▶️ Welcome Wolfpack! New Caldera High School opens to excited students, staff

“My parents both came to look around for the first time,” Caldera High School freshman Lilly Clark said. “They were really excited, seeing all the things they have wanted too for a really long time.”

Freshman and sophomores embracing the moment.

“The atmosphere for a new school is just incredible and being the upper classroom we get the opportunity to build an entire program and culture,” a Caldera High sophomore said. “It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it’s incredible.”

Principal of Caldera High Chris Boyd said they delayed the celebration until now, due to the pandemic.

“Part of the celebrations is marking the accomplishments of bringing everyone together to open a school,” Boyd said. “I think what’s unique about Bend and Central Oregon is this project alone, there were more than a thousand individuals from this community that worked through the lens of a contractor, a designer, an architect and Bend-La Pine staff. A lot of people in this community contributed to opening this building and I think that is something to celebrate.”

At halftime of the Caldera junior varsity football game, there was a ceremonial ribbon cutting to make things official.

Around 700 freshmen and sophomores walk the halls of Caldera High School.

The class of 2024 will be the first Wolfpack graduates.

▶️ ‘Parklets’ in Downtown Bend are here to stay, but will come at a price

The parklets — or outdoor dining tents — in downtown Bend are here to stay, but there will be a price for businesses that opt-in.

After a successful first-run while pandemic restrictions were in place, the city has decided to allow the outdoor dining areas year-round.

“That transition means a shift from free spaces and city provided safety equipment, to charging for spaces and some real guidelines around what businesses have to do to make a safe and esthetically pleasing space in those areas going forward,” said Ben Hemson, the business advocate for the city.

Some restaurants take up to nine parking spots for their parklet, and others like Bos Taurus share a parklet and only take up two spots.

“I don’t know how it affects every business that is using them,” said George Morris, chef and partner at Bos Taurus. “I guess I would say I have mixed feelings.”

“The City needs to make money too right, so they have people to pay and if this is one of the ways they need to do it, they have been really, really good to restaurants, they have been really, really good to businesses, so I am definitely not opposed to it,” Morris added.

One possible fee discussed by city council Wednesday night is $100 per parking space, per month, but some city councilors including Anthony Broadman say that fee is too steep.

“They (customers) are willing to wait an hour to go into a restaurant, but how long are you willing to wait for a parking spot?” Broadman asked. “Not very long right? You are going to circle or go to the garage like we ask. So, I would like a more targeted approach to a fee, if any. Either based on square footage or having one parking spot be included or a lower overall fee.”

City Council will meet again to discuss the parklet fees on November 3.

The City of Bend had eight businesses with an active parklet in the last year and over the summer it was below 1% of total available parking spaces in downtown.

After discussions Wednesday, the council wants a parking space capacity cap of 5% used for parklets.

▶️ Jefferson Co. schools look to improve security, facilities

It’s been nine years since the last bond measure passed in the Jefferson County School District.

Come November, a new 509-J school bond measure is on the ballot.

The ballot is a $24 million package for things like upgrading security and building repairs, but a portion of that money would go to upgrading the Madras High School soccer facility.

“When you are talking about 20 to 30 kids, this is a totally adequate facility, but it is not now,” said Madras High School head varsity soccer coach Clark Jones. “It has basically aged out. It’s like a lot of the other parts of our building, you can put Band-Aids on here and fix it up, but it is still not going to fit the needs that we have.”

Jones has been a part of the soccer program for 16 years.

With recent success, both the boys and girls programs combined had close to 100 students sign-up to play this year, but according to coaches and parents there is a big need for upgrades.

“We have one bathroom for girls and boys, and I mean when they want to change, they have to change on the field basically, which is not very, you know, good for girls,” said Madras parent Mary Bravo.

“A lot of kids will wear their clothes to school,” Jones said. “They will change over there and come here. They have to wait. Even the coaches don’t have a place to change to tell you the truth.”

With the soccer fields not immediately by the school, athletes have to share two single bathrooms to change.

The current field also has no lights; forcing games to be played earlier in the day.

“There are parents that have never been able to watch their kids play because of the time of the day,” Jones said. “It ends up becoming accessible to parents also, so I think that will be a huge thing for players and parents.”

If the bond passes, $1.4 million of the $24 million bond would go towards upgrading the soccer facility.

The rest of the money will go toward improving health, safety, and security, repairing and updating aging school buildings and expanding vocational opportunities and early learning.

“We’re mindful of the times that we are in, small businesses, individuals, the drought, but we also know the community expects us as a school district to make sure our kids are taken care of and we have to continue to take care of them the best we can and this is how we are going to do that,” said school board chair Laurie Danzuka.

The bond is not going to raise taxes and if passed, the board hopes all upgrades will be done within a two-year period.

Ballots must be turned in by November 2.

▶️ OSAA changes volleyball state tourney; only 4 teams to play

Last year Oregon high school sports did not have state playoffs due to COVID-19 precautions.

This year the competition is back, but it won’t look the same as previous years at the volleyball state tournament.

Instead of eight teams going to the tournament, only four are allowed.

“The state tournament is something that should be rewarded,” said Ridgeview Varsity coach Randi Viggiano. “It should be something to strive, and work for, and being a part of that final eight is a whole experience. So, the fact that only four teams will get to experience, it’s a real bummer, especially for all those seniors that missed that opportunity last year.”

This new playoff format also means teams will not be able to play for 5th – 8th place.

“Yeah that’s tough,” Viggiano added. “I also think for the first time especially in our classification in 5A, there are some teams who maybe haven’t had the opportunity to be at a state tournament in recent years, and an opportunity to have that experience and take home a trophy.”

Oregon School Activities Association executive director Peter Webber says some high school sites were worried about COVID-19 and hosting such large tournaments.

“The idea of having two courts, four communities there at a time, and then rotating four more communities right on top of them for the next match, were some of the concerns expressed,” Webber said.

Viggiano helped lead the Ravens to a state title in 2019 and runner-up in 2018.

After having no tournament last year, she’s just glad teams will have that chance once again.

“Although it is disappointing it won’t be the final eight, I am glad that at least four teams will be able to compete and somebody will get to walk away with a blue trophy because it’s a special moment that you’ll never forget,” Viggiano added.

▶️Redmond School Board decides against legal action over state mask, vax mandates

The Redmond School Board decided Wednesday it would not pursue legal action against the state over COVID-19 mask and vaccination rules. 

“We can put some of this behind us and move forward with getting back to the work of educating our kids and supporting our staff,” said board member Liz Goodrich.

The board came to the decision during a special meeting Wednesday night. There was no vote.

Instead, the board voted unanimously to draft a letter to the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education, looking for parameters and guidance on when to retain local control.

“My thought in pursuing legal action was not to create chaos or to be anti, but was to create options to our existing staff members who are on the fence, who had not filled out an exemption or acceptation,” said board vice chairman Michael Summers.

Summers said he was worried about the potential high number of staff the district would lose at the vaccination mandate deadline, but it appears now that number has become significantly lower.

District officials on Tuesday told Central Oregon Daily News about 20 of its 940 staff members haven’t yet provided proof of vaccination or a religious or medical exemption.

If any staff members don’t comply by Oct. 18, they’ll be placed on paid administrative leave effective on Oct. 19 until final personnel action is taken.

The district must comply with all the requirements of due process in the collective bargaining agreement. Those who don’t comply with the mandate will not be allowed to work for the district.

They also have a small number of athletic coaches who have not yet complied, which may produce the need for small operational adjustments.

Redmond School District hires legal counsel to fight mask, vax mandates

“My motivation in my mind was always to keep the school going and to find a path to help continue the district to be in-person and not have to go back to online,” Summers said.

Just before summer break ended, the school board approved a resolution calling for local control on mask and vaccination rules and said it planned to consider all avenues – even legal action against the state.

In a special school board meeting October 5, board members voted 4-1 to hire Thenell Law Group, a Portland-based law firm that specializes in insurance-related cases.

The board met with attorney Dan Thenell on Tuesday during an executive session to discuss potential litigation.

Redmond School District hires legal counsel to fight mask, vax mandates

According to a fee agreement with the law firm, the district paid a $5,000 retainer fee and planned to pay attorney fees of up to $350/hour.

Last month, Redmond Superintendent Charan Cline moved to have a Terrebonne fourth-grade teacher fired for not following the mask rules.

The school board voted against the termination, putting the long-time educator on paid administrative leave while it considered next steps.

▶️ Redmond School District to work around Terrebonne teacher’s mask refusal




▶️ Bend-La Pine School Board addresses perceived harassment of BIPOC members

Some Bend-La Pine School Board members believe they are being harassed and intimidated.

Protesters were outside the board meeting Tuesday night hoping to have their voices heard.

The school board said it’s their right to protest; however, there’s something simply not right about what’s happening.

One board member said BIPOC members — or black, indigenous, and people of color — are the ones most targeted.

“What is happening right now, harassment, intimidation, and targeting our BIPOC board members is intolerable and cannot continue,” said board Chairwoman Melissa Barnes Dholakia.

An opening statement by Dholakia addressed protesters and attacks on board members.

“This dark side of the community showed itself in the 2019 election, and it is happening again at an exponential level,” Dholakia said.

The local chapter of “Moms for Liberty” held a rally outside of the Bend-La Pine School District building ahead of Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

The group is frustrated it cannot attend these meetings in-person to voice its concerns.

“‘It takes a lot of courage and ‘oomph’ to come in front of the school board and make a statement, and a lot of parents aren’t comfortable doing that,” said chapter chair for Moms For Liberty, Deschutes County, Shelly Baker. “However, they are comfortable coming, and they are coming to support other parents who have the courage to speak in front of the school board and they, in their presence, are making their voice heard. That can’t be done via virtual.”

Protests have been held at the last two board meetings and listening sessions.

Dholakia said they’ve received more emails in a single week than the previous board received in a single year, and more complaints filed in the last six months than in the last decade.

“Is this about being listened to or about being provided a stage,” asked Dholakia. “What does it say not only about our community but our nation, that our board members of color are those being most frequently attacked? I think as a Central Oregon community and as the Bend-La Pine School District, we really need to sit with that, grapple with that and then we need to address that.”

▶️ ‘More than just a song’: Mountain View players honor national anthem

The national anthem means different things to different people.

For a group of Mountain View High School football players, it’s more than just a song, and this became clear at a recent game against South Salem. 

“Once we started warming up, we went back into the locker room after we were done, and actually while we were in in the locker room they started playing the national anthem and we weren’t out there, and I don’t even know if South Salem was out there,” said Mountain View senior Cameron Smith.

The players missed the Star-Spangled Banner, an important moment of the pre-game ritual, and their disappointment was obvious to head football coach Brian Crum.

“I just said ‘hey guys, the flags down there’ and I turned around, a minute later they were standing on the line with their hands over their hearts,” Crum said.

“We just started singing the national anthem because we thought we just wanted to support our country, you know,” Smith said.

Five seniors decided to sing on their own.

“It was kind of just a collective thing, we weren’t sure if anyone else would join in,” Smith added.

“It’s always been important to our kids, you know,” Crum said. “There have been a couple times in the past ten years, where for whatever reason we missed the national anthem and they get upset. I think it is a part of pre-game for them, a part of them getting ready, but it is also a chance to honor their country.

“I thought it was cool, I thought it was a neat way for them to do their own thing and take some ownership of a situation. They weren’t flustered by it, they weren’t upset, but they took that moment and made it their own, which I thought was cool.”

These young athletes did what they felt was right.

“I feel like to us it is more than just a song,” Smith said. “To me it is kind of like, it’s bigger than us, that is what I always feel like before the game.”

▶️ Deschutes County Commissioners agree to fully fund Redmond homeless project

After a stand still and pause on funds towards a homeless shelter in Redmond, Bethlehem Inn is finally receiving the money they need.

Deschutes County Commissioners voted unanimously to fund $450,000, helping turn the Green Way Motel into Bethlehem Inn’s second location.

“I’d had hoped that we could co-invest in this project, but at this point in time the City of Redmond is not ready to do that, so the county agreed to pick up the remaining $450,000 on this project,” said Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang.

Originally Redmond City Councilors agreed to pay $450,000 of the needed $900,000 to complete the project, but later put the money on hold over concerns over how the money should be spent, leaving county commissioners to make the decision to fund the entire $900,000.

“We are not creating places where a person experiencing homelessness is going to permanently be,” Chang said. “The idea with a project like Bethlehem Inn is that you come into Bethlehem Inn, you get some stability, you get some support, you get some job matching and you are hopefully able to exit out of there for a certain number of weeks and be employed and have a place to live.”

“People ask the question, whose job is this,” Chang added.

A question raised during a Redmond City Council meeting Tuesday night.

▶️ RDM City Council leaves homeless funding decision up to County Commissioners

“I don’t think we should be funding these at all. They should be funded by social service organizations and by the County and State,” said City Councilor Clark-Endicott.

“I disagree with my colleague’s that say this isn’t a city issue,”said City Councilor Clifford Evelyn. “It is a city issue because they are in our city, and they are family members of other families of this city and the fact of the matter is we cannot leave them out in the cold.”

By a 4-3 vote, Council decided to stick with the pause on funding and wait for the county’s decision.

Executive Director of Bethlehem Inn Gwenn Wysling says the funds will help finish the project.

“Knowing that the funds are there, we can now order the beds and supplies we need,” Wysling said.

Chang hopes the City of Redmond will partner with the county on upcoming homeless projects.

“It’s not going to be a perfect and smooth path getting to the eventual solutions, but I do hope through all these discussions, we are moving towards a collective effort among the cities and counties and service providers will help us put a dent in homelessness,” Chang said.

Wysling hopes the project is up and running by the end of October, giving people a warm place to stay during the winter.

RDM school board lets Terrebonne teacher keep job, despite refusal to wear mask

The Redmond school board voted 3-2 to let a Terrebonne elementary school teacher keep her job despite her refusal to wear a mask.

Superintendent Charan Cline led a termination hearing was held Wednesday night.

The hearing was for fourth-grade teacher at Terrebonne Community School, Tori Caudell, for refusing to wear a mask.

Cline and Caudell were each given 15 minutes to speak and an additional five minutes of rebuttal before the Redmond School Board approved or disapproved of Cline’s recommendation for termination.

“Ms. Caudell has intentionally and repeatedly refused to follow the clear directive that complies with the Oregon law,” said Cline. “In this case the rule adopted by the Oregon Health Authority at the direction of the Governor is that all staff and students wear face masks at school.”

Cline said the school district has 184 students currently in quarantine.

“Ms. Caudell was directed to follow the law multiple times, she was given multiple opportunities to comply and refused to do so, thus she has been insubordinate and has engaged in neglected duty that could jeopardize her teaching license,” Cline said during his closing statement. “Therefore, I have no choice but to recommend that the board dismiss Ms. Caudell from her employment with the district.”

During Caudell’s allotted time she read parts of the Bill of Rights, as well as quoting George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

“By forcing people to wear masks, you are infringing on my safety and my liberty as a person,” Caudell said.

Caudell has taught for the Redmond School District for 23 years.

She showed up to the first day of school refusing to wear a mask.

Redmond School Board approves resolution calling for local control on mask, vaccine rules

“I have not broken any law and by refusing to wear a mask. I am holding my constitutional rights,” Caudell concluded.

However, Oregon mandates handed down during a state of emergency carry the same weight as law.

After the statements, board members Michael Summers, Shawn Hartfield and Keri Lopez voted in favor of Caudell keeping her job with the district, but she is not allowed in a school building without wearing a mask.

Board members Jill Cummings and Liz Goodrich disagreed.

Summers and Hartfield have been staunch opponents of the state’s mask mandates from the beginning.

Before the school year started, they drafted a resolution against the mandate and considered defying the mask orders, but Cline stepped in and said the district would follow all state COVID rules.

Caudell is not allowed in a school building without wearing a mask.

“It would go back to an operational standpoint, so it will go back to the district and the district will have to figure out what they are going to do,” Hartfield said.

▶️ ‘We know we can trust him’: Redmond leaders confident in police chief finalist

Redmond Police Chief Dave Tarbet announced he planned to retire at the end of the year, and the hunt for a new police chief was on.

After the city of Redmond launched a national search for its next chief, it may have found their guy in Capt. Devin Lewis.

“There is going to be no surprises in terms of what people are going to see from him and what his expectations are for effort and output and the real positive energy and strong energy that he is going to bring to the department,” said Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky.

The city held a virtual public reception for Lewis on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m just looking to kind of grow and expand all the great things we’ve already done the prior couple years I have been here,” said Redmond Police Capt. Devin Lewis. “We have made a lot of good progress with a lot of different programs and I just want to build on that progress.”

Lewis isn’t a stranger to the High Desert.

He was named captain on the Redmond Police Department in 2019 and has over 22 years of experience in Central Oregon law enforcement.

“He is someone that people want to work for and people want to work with, whether it is the school district or the DA’s office or people in the community,” Witcosky said. “It is important to have somebody that has integrity, and honesty and puts in a lot of effort. Kind of following the footsteps of Chief Tarbet and Devin just fits that to the T.”

Current Chief Dave Tarbet announced he plans to retire on Dec. 31st

“I think the biggest thing as police chief is, you are the face of the organization, you are the face of the agency,” Lewis said. “So, making sure that you’ve put out in the community, that positive example, that positive role model, not only for the department, but for the people that work with you in the department.”

Lewis is the only one in the running.

If hired, his start date will be January 1.

“We know that we can trust him,” Witcosky said. “He is a good communicator, he understands what the position entails and we know he is gong to do an excellent job. So. we are really excited to have him as a finalist.”

Lewis says, one of his main goals as chief would be relocating to the new public safety facility, which is currently under consideration.

▶️ Redmond Police Department explores land buy for new HQ